Studying for a masters degree is a sure-fire way of delaying the inevitable of leaving university and taking your first steps onto the career ladder. But if you think gaining an LLM will give your application for a training contract the edge then think again.
LLMs should come with a health warning. Not one single firm I spoke to while researching this piece said that a masters was a valuable addition to a candidates application form. Indeed, in private, some graduate recruitment managers/partners told me that they were a total waste of time and that candidates were better off learning a language or travelling. Frankly, with that in mind if I had a few thousand quid to burn (the cost of some LLMs can be as high as 8,000) I know what Id rather be doing.
Understandably, law schools have been quick to jump to the defence of LLMs, arguing that these days the courses are less academic and more commercially focused. For instance, The City Law Schools international commercial law LLM programme offers students an opportunity to complete an internship with a law firm. And, as Lawyer2B.com reports this week, the school is in talks with a number of firms to increase the number of places it is able to offer.
Another trend thats sweeping the market is to top up the LPC to gain an LLM. As reported in Lawyer 2B (May 2007), the College of Law, the Oxford Institute of Legal Practice and the University of Plymouth all offer this option. Since that article was published Ive discovered that London Metropolitan University has also jumped on the bandwagon.
Im lost as to what type of student this would appeal to, other than perhaps an overseas student who wants an internationally recognised qualification. The average LPC student works like a dog all year, so when they finish the course the idea of a further period of study or writing a dissertation for the sake of gaining three more letters after their names must surely be off-putting?
The consensus among law firms is that you should only embark on an LLM because you have a genuine interest in a particular area of law, such as competition or shipping. But some also advise that you should keep your options open and perhaps only think about starting the course after you qualify, as youre likely to get more out of it.
Whatever you do, dont get sucked in by the LPC-LLM combo because, as one of my contacts put it, with the exception of the Oxbridge MA the idea of getting two degrees for the price of one is madness. If you disagree (or agree) get in touch.
Your say Interesting comment. My experience in LLM recruitment shows that it's those already in careers that benefit most from LLMs. Our LLM Innovation, Technology and the Law (distance learning) students have a combined average career length of 11.4 years. Next most are international students who DO benefit from LL.Ms on a number levels. One student in Malaysia returned to her home country and was offered three jobs that otherwise she'd not have been, and all because she'd studied at a UK university. Of course, I'm talking about distance learning, so it'd be good to see an article from you about that in the future. Colin Miller, University of Edinburgh